K. Forest Ignites a Slow-Burning Fire with New Album, Forest Fire ll
Evan Dale // Jun 13, 2018
There has long seemed to exist an internal struggle to establish a concrete identity for Toronto’s K. Forest. But perhaps, the fault is ours for not accepting that the truth of his artistry lies in its fluid permanence. His breakout track, 2016’s Link, was a thorough exploration of the Caribbean influence on modern Toronto’s hip-hop soundscape while a series of subsequent tracks from Reverse to Unusual-Self felt closer to Drake-inspired pop hits and more traditionalist Rhythm & Blues slow jams. But the thing is, they are all great songs.
What often gets lost in the process of making sense of K. Forest’s canon is that somewhere in the midst of it all, his 2016 debut album was released. Eyes of Taiga was put out shortly after Link, but thanks to the oftentimes slow trickling of popularity at the beginning of a smash hit’s exponential climb, Link– the lead-up single to K. Forest’s debut, didn’t achieve significant international recognition until the one-quarter curtain of 2017. By the time nightclubs around the world were bumping the dark, melodic jam, too much time had passed for its tangible growth to circle an audience back towards Eyes of Taiga.
Wisely keeping the focus on his future growth, K. forest released an unprecedented 11 singles in the wake of Link’s explosive shot to the top of the hip-hop futurist spectrum. Even more amazing is that each track has sounded like the release of a different capable veteran. Many lines of comparison have been drawn to other artists. There is an evident PARTYNEXTDOOR influence in his sound, a clear respect of Drake, a vocal range that places him somewhere between Bryson Tiller and the Weeknd, and the murky, underground production of leading hype-hop icons from SAINt JHN to Cousin Stizz. Yet, through the comparisons, nothing about K. Forest’s transcendent sound feels phony. Nothing is forced.
That isn’t only astonishing. It’s rare.
Only one artist in particular comes to mind when discussing not K. Forest’s sonic texture, but his undervalued talent from the beginning, extreme growth, and the sudden release of a sophomore project that will lead to inevitable superstardom on a series of multi-dimensional stylistic soundscapes: Anderson .Paak.
When Anderson .Paak released Malibu at the beginning of 2016, the world was slowly, but surely plunged underneath the wave of transcendental, indefinable musicianship driving his artistry and the binding of previously denoted incompatible audiences from Rock to Electronic to Hip-hop and everything else under the umbrella of his musicality. It also led to the shocking moment of discovery when the world at large learned of his debut album, 2014’s Venice.
How could we not have yet heard about this man?
Once the existential crises and profound doubts into our true depth of knowledge on music wore off, music fans across the world felt entirely blessed by the previously unheard-of talent, because when we all finally opened our eyes, years of music and hard work were awaiting our eager ears.
By the time Anderson .Paak released Malibu, some high-profile recognition had come to exist in his collaborations with GoldLink on 2015’s And After That We Didn’t Talk, and his music video for 2014’s Drugs. But Malibu’s release brought a thorough and hard-hitting fan base to his early work like never before.
With the release of K. Forest’s sophomore album, Forest Fire ll, the world is in store for just such another moment of musically-broad and epochally-unrestrained awakening.
K. Forest’s well-documented success from a collection of singles has granted him the platform from which he is now releasing Forest Fire ll, and the project is strong enough to circle his ever-expanding audience’s attention back towards Eyes of Taiga – a shockingly underappreciated album. Awaiting each of his new fans and followers are two full-length albums, a mixtape, and a plethora of singles ranging across an insanely wide expanse of styling and approach. And the commonality that will connect them all, is the influence and celebration of Forest Fire ll.
A darkly romantic, emotionally stirring, and at times hyper-sexual production, K. Forest’s sophomore project is one of the cleanest and most intriguing examples of post-genre hip-hop / R&B / electronic transcendence. The whole thing feels like a one-night stand with a long-forgotten soulmate in a way only an emotionally-capable, testosterone-endowed Torontonian seems to be able to deliver.
Think about the Drake era and all of the music and madness that has ensued. PARTYNEXTDOOR, The Weeknd, Night Lovell. K. Forest is simultaneously a blending of these styles and the next step in the evolution of the Canadian soundscape – proving, like Anderson .Paak, that one artist need not be defined by one stylistic approach, and in fact, if talented enough can thrive within the boundlessness of many.
For its part, Forest Fire ll boasts its own internal evolutions. Cadence, vocal approach, productive stylings all shift and adjust throughout its entirety in a way that has become a staple of the modern school of genre-transcendent protagonists. Yet, the album hosts the dark, undertone, anti-world sonic texture of an admirable underground villain.
As far as comparisons go, there are more similarities between this project and Bryson Tiller’s 2015 debut TRAPSOUL than could have been earned by any artist since the breakout album’s release. The unpredictability of an emotionally-capable artist specializing in the conflicting rap-sung approach of the modern obsession is simply tantalizing and enjoyable for a wide reach of the modern audience’s ear.
With a certain swatch of music’s generality speeding towards the heavily produced, the dark, and the undertone while another heads towards the undefined blend of classic vocalism and upbeat cadence, K. Forest binds the two in a manner yet to be received and soon to be topping the charts across the globe.